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New evidence from the North and South Poles indicates that time is running out for the world's leaders to respond to climate change.

The urgency for Scottish politicians to make the Scottish Climate Change Bill as strong as it can be is highlighted as ministers from Arctic Council and Antarctic Treaty states hold their first ever joint meeting in Washington. As they mark the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Antarctic Treaty, WWF is challenging the Treaty ministers to affirm their commitment to climate change action.

The environmental organisation provided the Treaty ministers with compelling recent evidence from both the north and south poles that clearly demonstrates global temperature increases must be kept well under two degrees Celsius.

Dr Richard Dixon, Director of WWF Scotland said:

A global average temperature rise of 2 degrees is clearly too much for the poles. Scientists are already unpleasantly surprised at how quickly the impacts of warming such as sea ice loss are showing up in the polar regions, exceeding recent predictions. It is therefore vital the Scottish Climate Change Bill, currently working its way through Parliament is sharpened up, if it is to set a much-needed benchmark for tough action on climate change."

"On Saturday 28 March the people of Scotland took part in WWF's Earth Hour which was the world's biggest ever show of support for determined international action on climate change. We hope that such a highly visual show of concern will inspire our politicians to ensure that the final bill is world leading."

Global average warming due to climate change since the late 1800s is showing severe impacts at less than one degree, as the Arctic is warming at about twice the global average and parts of the Antarctic are also outstripping the global average. The polar regions themselves have profound and not yet fully understood impacts on climate globally, and there are fears that polar tipping points could trigger abrupt change around the world.

Neil Hamilton, Director of WWF's International's Arctic Programme said:

"The world is caught in a polar pincer movement. What is happening at the poles will control the world's climate. If we do not stop the poles from melting, the whole world will feel it, in the form of runaway warming and rising waters."
Right now the Catlin Arctic Survey expedition is sampling the thickness of Arctic sea ice. The expedition, partly sponsored by WWF, is likely to confirm scientists' fears that the older, thicker ice is disappearing. This has led them to predict that the summer sea ice could disappear within a generation, leading to catastrophic consequences for the entire ecosystem, everything from single celled animals to whales.

Mr Hamilton added:

"The Ministers meeting today in Washington have a special responsibility to the world. They are the custodians of the poles, and this would be an opportunity for them to show the world that they are ready to step up and shoulder their responsibility to keep the poles frozen, by committing to taking urgent and effective action at the Copenhagen climate meeting this December.""